Recycling

The state of recycling in North Carolina has declined.
Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center

North Carolina is failing to make progress in its recycling efforts. That's one finding from a new study released by Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center, a nonprofit.

Artist's rendering of how the Molok waste collection system will look in Raleigh.
City of Raleigh

The City of Raleigh is testing out a new way to collect trash and recycling.

A year-long pilot program aims to get roll carts off the sidewalks downtown. Instead, garbage, mixed recycling, and cardboard will be collected in large underground cylinders. Six of the cylinders are being installed at the corner of Wilmington and Hargett streets this week.

Creative Commons / Via pxhere

In an effort to cut down on recycling contamination, the Town of Aberdeen has begun refusing to collect from curbside containers that hold dirty or non-recyclable materials. Town Manager Paul Sabiston says those bins will receive a red rejection tag, urging owners to remove garbage and other misplaced items before the next pick-up.

A picture of glass bottles and jars
Creative Commons / maxpixel.net/Recycling-Bottle-Jars-Bottles-Recycle-Glass-57139

Moore County has made a deal with the country's largest glass recycler, and now, officials hope it will enable county residents to keep glass bottles and jars out of the landfill.

A picture of glass bottles and jars
Creative Commons / maxpixel.net/Recycling-Bottle-Jars-Bottles-Recycle-Glass-57139

One town in Moore County is no longer accepting glass bottles and jars in curbside recycling bins. It's a cost-saving measure amid skyrocketing fees.

Recycling is becoming more expensive pretty much everywhere. But Moore County faced sticker shock this summer when a fire closed the material recovery facility that had its contract. The county tipping fee jumped from $25-per-ton to $100, making recyclables much more expensive to haul than garbage.

A poster of general, statewide accepted recyclable materials as described by the Department of Environmental Quality.
Courtesy of Department of Environmental Quality

If you've ever thrown out your recyclables in a garbage bag, you personally have contributed to the rising cost of recycling in America. Garbage bags aren't recyclable in conventional material recovery facilities (MRFs) and often get tangled up in the machines that sort your paper from your glass from your plastic. Then somebody has to go in, fish out that mangled plastic bag, and dispose of it properly. The same goes for textiles, scrap metal, electrical cords.

A picture of a Green Zone Drop Zone bin in Durham
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

So you've unpacked your winter clothes and are packing up your warm weather duds to hibernate until spring. But what about all the leftover clothes? Not the gently worn items that might fetch a couple bucks at a consignment store -- go ahead and sell or donate those.

A picture of a plastic bag floating underwater.
polandeze / flickr.com/photos/polandeze/378698004

A massive amount of plastic is ending up in our oceans. It’s a global challenge that could be solved only with a huge, coordinated effort. North Carolinians are doing their part both by adding to, and lightening the load.

North Carolina, like the rest of the world, has a plastic problem. And with more than 3,000 miles of ocean and sound coastline, the plastic that is dropped along a roadside or blown into in a ditch has a direct route to the sea.

File photo of plastic straws.
Alex Brown / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/8bjPGB

Some North Carolina bars and restaurants are are phasing out the use of plastic straws because drinking straws are not recyclable and often make their way to the ocean, where they can injure marine life.

Recycling bin.
Town of Chapel Hill

You mean well, and want to help the environment. But have you ever tossed a plastic bag in your blue curbside recycling bin? Or a styrofoam container? You might be part of the reason America has such a lousy reputation for recycling.

A picture of curbside recycling carts in Durham.
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikipedia

Recycling is becoming more popular across North Carolina, and Dare County recycles the most household paper and container materials per-capita in the state.

The Advocacy group Environment North Carolina is leading the charge to ban the use of single-use polystyrene, better known as styrofoam.
romana klee / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/r78ZQJ

Environmental activists are calling for a statewide ban on single-use polystyrene, better known as styrofoam. The plastic food and drink containers don’t biodegrade, and often end up in waterways and marine animals.

many small photos of plastic objects such as a pizza table or small bag, each photographed next to a ruler
Robin Frohardt

Mandatory recycling is law in some places around the United States, which makes people feel comfortable about their part in saving the planet. But what happens to single-use plastics, like take out containers, grocery bags, and Starbucks cup caps? They end up in the oceans, among other places.

A picture of gift wrapping supplies
PPD / pixnio.com/miscellaneous/wrapping-paper

Christmas is no time to take a holiday from recycling. That's according to Raleigh Environmental Coordinator Bianca Howard.

Image of exhibit celebrating the history of The Scrap Exchange and Durham's Lakewood neighborhood.
Katy Clune

North Carolinians throw away 11 million tons of waste each year, contributing to the more than 200 million tons of waste discarded by all Americans. 

A pile of discarded computers and other electronics.
Curtis Palmer / Flickr

A bill in the North Carolina House would let computer and television manufacturers off the hook for fees that subsidize recycling of their products. The Senate has already passed the bill, even though it would still ban the items from landfills.

Now, recyclers and local governments are worried how they'll afford costly disposal. North Carolina still charges advance disposal fees for tires and appliances to keep them out of landfills.

A picture of a teacher and intern working on a computer.
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

Computers, smart phones and other electronics often end up in landfills just a couple years after they're manufactured. The United Nations says electronic waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in developed developing countries alike, and it can be hazardous.

Picture an enormous thrift store with a funky vibe and full of boisterous music. A vintage-looking swordfish hangs above the register, and the art that lines the walls is made from old binders and colorful bits of foam and plastic.

"We get a ton of fabric, beads, buttons, trim, notion, paint, wood, frames, matte board, foam core, billboards, signage, magnets," said Ann Woodward.

A picture of two men working on a bike wheel.
Carol Jackson / WUNC

Giselle John of Cary has not had a bike in more than a decade, but that is not going to stop her.  For this weekend's activity, John's online Meetup group chose the ReCYCLEry in Chapel Hill. She decides to get her hands dirty bringing a slightly rusty old mountain back back into working order.

"I'm gonna ride it. I might need double helmets and lots of padding," John said.  "I don't even know if I have the balance yet. I'll try it. See what happens."

A picture of used aluminum cans.
Tambako the Jaguar / Flickr

Spring cleaning is underway; you can tell from the yard sales dotting lawns over the weekend. Most other unwanted items can go in your recycling bin. Morning Edition producer Rebecca Martinez has been reporting on recycling and re-use.

Eric Hodge: Communities across the state have really been pushing recycling in recent years, making it more convenient. Why does that matter?

A picture of two stacks of books.
katerha / Creative Commons

A new book club in Raleigh is encouraging some trashy reading this summer.

The Solid Waste Services Department says it's a way of celebrating the 25 years since Raleigh set up a curbside recycling program, and the city wants readers to learn more about how garbage is managed and how recycling works.

A picture of curbside recycling carts in Durham.
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikipedia

Durham's Solid Waste Department is cutting four jobs to make up for a $1.1 million budget shortfall.

Director Donald Long said his department is very expensive to run. Its $16 million budget is about the same size as last year, and Long said one of the only places to cut costs is personnel.

A picture of a chair in front of a pile of garbage.
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

The Raleigh City Council wants to reduce the amount of garbage it sends to a landfill in Southern Wake County.

Raleigh pays about $33 for each ton of garbage it buries, but the city can make $30 on each ton it recycles. This morning, Raleigh's Solid waste director is presenting a list of options to increase recycling. One company in town, WasteZero, says it has the best option.

Packing The Trash Into The Landfill: How Trash Is Handled Now

A picture of a recycling cart
Cary

Starting today, residents of Cary can recycle even more waste materials.  In addition to soda bottles and milk jugs, Cary will accept bulky #2 HPDE plastic in its curbside recycling bins.

Solid Waste Division Manager Bob Holden said that includes old patio furniture, storage bins, and garbage cans.

“We listened to our citizens,” Holden said. “Our citizens wanted us to look for more ways to recycle more things. And working with our contractor, they found a domestic market that would accept these specific items to make paint cans out of them.”

A picture of flattened soda cans
gfpeck / Flickr

A growing contingent of manufacturers is working to make products with packaging that won't end up in a landfill.

They'll have a workshop devoted to education and idea-swapping at this week's Zeroing in on Waste Reduction event in Asheville. Carolina Recycling Association hosts the annual conference and trade show, which will gather 700 exhibitors, businesses, speakers and participants.

Diane Davis is the executive director of the CRA. She said making products that limit waste can be cost-effective while being environmentally friendly.

www.co.orange.us
Courtesy of www.co.orange.us

Orange County leaders may be forced to change how its recycling program is paid for.  The county says its recycling efforts have reduced trash in landfills by nearly 60 percent.  The county has been charging fees on property tax bills for the last decade to help pay for the program.  But the fee was never approved by the General Assembly.  The county manager's suggestion to privatize recycling pickup was resisted by some county commissioners. 

Counties across North Carolina are embarking on one of their official after-Christmas duties – disposing of hundreds of tons of Christmas trees. Here's what's happening in Wilmington.

A new program in Greensboro aims to keep old mattresses from being sent to the dump.

In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in the country the City is partnering with Mattress Go Round. The Greensboro company recycles old mattresses and box springs by repairing, sanitizing and rebuilding them for resale. President and Founder of the company Robert Savino says keeping the bulky mattresses out of landfills will save space and money.

North Carolina is hoping to find better uses for discarded food. A new study from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources finds that residents and businesses generate over a million tons of food waste a year. Scott Mouw is director of the state recycling program.

Scott Mouw: We now should turn our attention to diverting that material from landfills and to other kinds of uses, whether it's using the food for donation to food banks, or to composting, or to other uses that may eventually turn into energy like in anaerobic digestion.

Officials in Currituck County are trying to restore oyster populations by getting consumers to recycle the shells. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has set up receiving areas at the Barco and Moyock Recycling Centers. The agency's Patricia Smith is asking residents and restaurants to take shells to one of those two designated sites:

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